OPINION: Lessons learned from KC's Bi-State II defeat

Despite the fact that the Chiefs, the Royals, and arts organizations are very popular, Kansas City's Bi-State II proposal was resoundingly defeated. What are the lessons?

* Tax proposals must be designed in an open, public process with input from all interested communities, not as a sweet insider deal cooked up in smoke-filled back rooms.

* The proposal must have clear safeguards for public openness, public accountability, and public input into the way our public tax money is spent from beginning to end. Bi-State I has been a *terrible* negative example in this regard. Entities that spend tax money must have public accountability. Period.

* We love our sports teams and we will support them--to a certain point. We like to think of team owners as dashing, independent entrepreneurs, not as businesspigs with snouts buried firmly in the public trough. Bi-State II proposed 92% public funding of stadium improvements; other communities have chipped in an average of 67% for similar stadium plans. A good starting point for KC's next plan would be 50%.

If these facilities will really help increase team income then they can help pay for themselves, too.

* The MetroGreen plan for recreational trails reaching to every corner of the greater KC region enjoys widespread public support, would greatly benefit from regional coordination, planning, and funding, and could move forward at a fraction of the cost of stadium improvements. Why not reduce the huge stadium costs that benefit a relative few in one place, and use a small part of the savings for a project that will benefit many throughout the entire region?

The demise of Bi-State II has been blamed on the lack of vision of area residents in seeing the metro area as one community.

But, just for once, why don't area leaders try giving us a reasonable proposal an extra large helping of public accountability and openness?

Bi-State II had far too much the smell of back-room political-machine pork-barrel politics.

Next time, give us something we can really feel good about voting for, and just see if we don't bite.


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